Thomm Quackenbush, author

12.14.05 5:05 p.m.

Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.  

-Confucius

 



Previously in Xenology: Xen had a creepy obsession with Jill Sobule. Xen and Kate once dated.

Amber Waves

I feel I've lost a lot of my life because I didn't write is down, like none of those moments really counted because they aren't pieces of amber for you to gawk at and for me to wince over. I don't always or even often enjoy reading what I said and how I felt in the past, but I must accept it because it keeps me true.

This navel-gazing was brought on by trying to figure out the location of a school where I would be subbing. I had these flashes of an algae green pond adjoining a playground. I could almost recall the odor of organic rot, but not quite. I suppose I should be grateful for that.
Kate, soon after things stuck  
Kate

I remember being around a loved one. Did I come there with Katie? Was this one of the places where she tried to break-up with me? No, that was Bowdoin Park. The memory of that comes back as a wave, specifically a moment of walking the paths through the forest and finding a bench. That had been a cool day, late winter or fall, and I wanted to give her a little time alone so that she might rethink leaving me, a tact which worked. She only tried to break up with me twice before relatively sticking to her ground.

If not Kate, who? Memory clarifies at the green pond never will. The park was down the road from where my older brother took guitar lessons for years. I was young enough that my presence was insisted upon, which might account for the haziness of the memory. Perhaps I was merely there with my mother and younger brother? Perhaps I was simple there on a road trip pit stop. Nothing further floats to the surface.

The end point is, I have no idea where I am going, but at least you have a slightly better idea where I have been.

True Colors Shining Through

I was surprised and annoyed to see sandwich boards advertising to let us into the free municipal parking lots outside of the concert for $5. That the tickets cost upward of fifty dollars a piece and the parking lots were paid for by tax dollars seemed reason enough to assume we would be allowed to park for free. What was more surprising and altogether more galling was that Emily and I did not actually have five dollars in cash between us. We drove around in circles for a few minutes, trying to rustle up the required cash or find a working ATM. Neither of these things occurred, so Emily asked me for all the change I had, wrapped in our solitary dollar bill, and told me to play along no matter what she said. She handed the bundle of insufficient change to the woman giving out parking passes, apologizing for only having coins to give.

"No problem," said the woman happily, not even looking down to be assured that Emily was giving her real money. "The bank will count it up just the same."

Pulling into the lot, Emily confided, "Everyone trusts a cute blonde."

My mother happened to win the tickets, else we would not have attended. She entered the contest on Black Friday, just so the radio station would give her a free mug. When they called her weeks later, she had almost forgotten entering at all. She promptly gave the tickets to me as an early birthday present.

The headliner of the show was Cindy Lauper. For those of you that failed Eighties Pop Culture and therefore do not work for VH1, she is a pop singer who befriended and employed in her videos many professional wrestlers including Captain Lou Albano. She is a diminutive platinum blonde with a thick Brooklyn accent that ceases to exist once she opens her mouth to sing. (I think this is the case with nearly everyone's distinct accent. I wonder if we all just earn to sing in a way discernibly different from our language acquisition and are therefore emulating the same people, who are in term emulating the same other people.)

Cindy Lauper was not our reason for attending, pop culture whores though we are. We fought through traffic and lied to parking attendants because my dear Jill Sobule was opening the show. It felt an indignity that the person I most wanted to see did not have bands opening for her, but I cannot expect the world to share my musical tastes for witty female folk singers.

We arrived in time to see Jill Sobule call three girls clad in faux eighties gear on stage to sing back-up vocals for "Hot in Herre" by Nelly. Jill said that there is just something about a girl with a guitar that most people do not find sexy, and so she had to sing this to prove them wrong. Who are these people? How can they be so completely wrong at the very core of their beings? The equation is very basic. Girl(Guitar + Singing) = Freaking Sexy. Tattoo that to your arm so you won't forget.
Really hot  
Girl(Guitar + Singing) = Freaking Sexy

I have been very spoiled, I realized, as I had previously only seen Jill in tiny intimate venues where I could actually touch her (on both occasions, and only once with her knowledge and consent). Seeing her across a distance greater than the length of both previous venues was more than irksome. She was far enough away from the seat Emily and I adopted that she might well have been a stranger in Jill's Underdog Victorious shrift. She's actually so hot when she sings that she can wear a formless tunic and still inspire lust in me. Even Emily commented that Jill had really nice legs.

The audience did not seem to appreciate Jill nearly as much as I did - which I admit would be difficult - nor as much as they should have. They were here for Cindy Lauper and to hell with this short Jewish woman who was singing about dysfunctional families at Christmas.

My god, but I want to perform unnatural acts with her.

Jill left the stage a half an hour after the show was slated to have started and fifteen minutes after Emily and I arrived. Having wasted so much of our time and pocket change getting in here, we were going to stand our ill-gotten ground and not leave simply because our sole reason for being there was now back stage, reading hate mail sent to her website suggesting she perform sex acts on herself with an auger. That we stayed put when offered nothing we wanted is what is known in the world of salesmanship and persuasion as the "foot in door" technique. We were already invested in the show by virtue that we paid to enter the parking lot and had specified this was what we were doing tonight. In order to be consistent - an altogether too powerful human drive - we would sit through anything that was not violently against our tastes and character, since staying despite such things would be foolish consistency.

Before it was Cindy Lauper turn on stage, Sandra "I slept with Madonna fifteen years ago so you should care about me" Bernard crept onto stage to regale us with her comic styling. These initially entailed doing a bad cover of a boring song and insulting Poughkeepsie and all who dwell within. She seemed to feel that she was clever and likeable enough that telling the denizens of this city they were ignorant, corn-fed yokels would endear her to us. I sensed Vassar girls in the other row bristling against the abstract innate support of anyone professing to be gay and actually employing this carte blanche in a practical way regarding to a gap-toothed bitch.

I would like to say the show improved after she returned Cindy Lauper's band to her and started actually being humorous... actually, no I wouldn't and I won't. She was a miserably bad comedian, no funnier than a drunk lesbian at a frat party.

One of Ms. Bernard's "jokes" - and I use the term loosely given that I tend to believe comedians actually script their material to some degree and not just read from the latest edition of the Poughkeepsie Journal and make faces as she did - involved ranting that Condoleezza Rice is try to pretend that she is male, straight, and white. I find the latter of her assumptions most galling, though I cannot find much amusement value in the rest of her statement, no matter how much I dislike Rice and the regime for which she prostitutes herself.

If I may digress for a moment to better explain myself, I am utterly exhausted with this association between less skin pigment and success. If someone is eloquent and literate and dares to have a warm skin tone, they are accused of acting white. The implicit assumption is that white skin correlates to literacy and success in life; that minorities - aside from those industrious Asians - are somehow incapable of leading a life of intelligence and meaning. I substitute at schools at all levels up to twelfth grade. Trust me, many, many white people are illiterates with weak vocabularies. The sad part is that students of African descent buy into this propaganda that they are somehow being false to their racial background by desiring to read a book or offer a correct answer. No, they are "keeping it real." If I may quote Chris Rock, a cleverer comedian than Sandra Bernhard could hope to be, "yeah, you're keeping it real... Real dumb."

When she was finished doing her best to implicitly propagate racist mythology, she launched into a spiel about annoying she finds people pretending to be celebrities with no actual accomplishments. I leaned over to Emily and said, "Is it lonely up there on your pedestal, Sandra?" M burst out laughing, annoying the emo boy on my right, who was trying to embrace this noxious lesbians screed in order to please his girlfriend with his open-mindedness.

Cindy Lauper was, to our amazement, genuinely entertaining. I suppose, having spent a good portion of her adult life on stage, she has figured out how to play an audience. She bounced across stage singing some song I vaguely recognized as the background music to a few generic eighties movie. Then she segued into a low ballad and the audience, with a median age of fifty, ate it up. A middle aged woman in front of us was trying to egg Emily and me into dancing with her. Technically, she said, "you two girls," but we assume that her eyes were going with age. We demurred, content to watch or avoid watching her dance by shaking her ass in my proximity.

To her immense credit, she stopped the concert at one point to talk about Matthew Sheppard and the organization dedicated to preventing hate crimes. She tossed out the purple bracelets used to popularize the cause, which both Emily and I are currently wearing, and was heartfelt despite her accent prejudicing me to believe she was telling me how to get to the Bronx on the subway. Then she jumped across stage and was a gleeful as a ferret once more.

Our only regret is that we left before she sang "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." We assumed this had to be her encore, because it would be a sin for her not to do so. Ooh, or that song about female masturbation. Nothing I like better than thinking about Cindy Lauper masturbating.

Wait... is "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" about jilling off?

I have just ruined my childhood.

Soon in Xenology: Birthday. Yule.

last watched: Rent
reading: Transformation
listening: Quiet Is the New Loud

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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Works by Thomm Quackenbush

The Night's Dream Series

We Shadows by Thomm Quackenbush

Danse Macabre by Thomm Quackenbush

Artificial Gods by Thomm Quackenbush